It can be so easy to not want to sit in the middle of our pain when we loose someone we love dearly. Often times in the process of trying not to feel it all or identify with it, we can wind up in an endless loop of keeping busy and finding distractions. While distracting ourselves IS important – we all need a rest from the heaviness of grief – it’s equally important to give ourselves time to sit in it… to rest ourselves down within the ruins of a world that has crumbled beneath our very feet. To observe. To take note of how this world within us is changing over time. Sitting in the ruins is not about being in a depression or punishing yourself with sadness – it is going into your pain with watchful eyes so that you may know yourself and what has shaped you even deeper. It is to go through what is left and find things of beauty – ripe with sacred meaning and timeless memory – that can be found nowhere else in existence. Things like a deep compassion and understanding of others, or an unwavering inner strength from the fire.
I am continually battling my desire to avoid this place and my knowing that I need allow myself to be here… especially as time has gone on. As I heal, it becomes more tempting to become quiet about it all, to stop writing about it and stop photographing it, to start covering it up and instead fill up all my time with other things. And as we all know, society as a whole prefers this, so it’s all too easy to get caught up in it at times.
I think I’ve been doing that since I came home from Hawaii – where this portrait was taken. For those two weeks in Oahu, I was so beautifully distracted and surrounded with wonder. Not only did I not want to come home to hot Texas summers, I also didn’t want to come home to my story. To my own ruins. That reality which requires so much daily work. Sitting down to write this piece feels like a step in the right direction though… a step towards sitting myself down and allowing it all to be seen and felt.
I realized some important things in Hawaii. While seeing incredible sights and hiking for miles on end, I found myself feeling so ready to welcome new adventures. In a way that I haven’t felt able to since he died. It’s a beautiful realization, but also complex and emotional. A new phase of sorts. For a while now I have felt halfway between two worlds… and now I feel as if I am leaning into the new. Immediately it is scary. And I’m having to learn how to integrate the new into my existing world that still houses these ruins and my grief and my love and my memories. Like being hit my an avalanche, each new turn on this journey seems to surprise me with how it is just as difficult – in completely different ways – as all the parts I have traveled thus far within my heart. But for today at least, I am allowing myself to take a moment to just sit, and breathe, and rest wherever I am.
About the Series: Through 40 weekly photos and accompanying essays, 'Still, Life' captures a deeply emotional and psychological journey of what it means to grieve, to heal, and to live on.